A cre­ative way to clean beaches

Yachting World - - Front Page -

A Hamp­shire cou­ple have come up with an in­ge­nious self-fund­ing way of clean­ing up beaches along the south-west coasts of Britain. They clean plas­tic from some of the most beau­ti­ful beaches along the coast, then take pho­tos of it and sell the prints.

Joe Law­son and his fi­ancée, Caro­line Mc­der­mid, started up Drone Overview in 2017. They sur­vey beaches in Corn­wall and Dorset by drone, col­lect­ing data and help­ing to cre­ate 3D maps of beaches. They then pro­vide that data to uni­ver­sity re­searchers and an or­gan­i­sa­tion called the The Plas­tic Tide, which is mak­ing an open source map of plas­tic around Britain’s coast.

This helps The Plas­tic Tide de­velop an al­go­rithm that can spot plas­tic items, recognising them by shape and colour.

The sur­vey al­lows Law­son and Mc­der­mid to lo­cate and clear plas­tic from the beach be­fore tak­ing the im­ages that will be se­lected to make high qual­ity prints.

“We’ve done a lot of beaches on the north coast of Corn­wall, such as Fis­tral and Per­ran­porth. Typ­i­cally, we’ll take fish­ing rope, fish­ing wire, lots of straws, bot­tle tops and weird things like crisp pack­ets, forks and spoons as well as a lot of small, in­dis­tin­guish­able things. The last beach we cleaned was Lepe in Hamp­shire and over a three hectare area, we ended up tak­ing 5kg away.

“Even if some beaches are quite clean there are a lot of mi­cro plas­tics from the At­lantic in the sand.”

Law­son says they some­times of­fer a be­spoke ser­vice. “If any­one has a par­tic­u­lar place they want a pic­ture of, we will go there, take drone im­ages of the beach, scan it, clean it up and then, if we have time, we will take pic­tures.” He and Mc­der­mid are of­ten joined by oth­ers on beach cleans.

For more info on this great ini­tia­tive, see

Above: Ky­nance Cove in Corn­wall Right: Tol­carne Beach, Newquay

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